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Tips for Tackling the GRE Text Completion Format

Following is a list of tips for tackling the GRE Text Completion format — one of three basic question formats you'll encounter during each of the exam's Verbal Reasoning sections.

  1. Look for key words and phrases in the text that tell you where it's going. Is it continuing along one line of thought? If so, you're looking for a completion that carries the idea through. Does the text change direction in midstream? If so, you're looking for a completion that establishes a contrast between ideas.

    Words that signal continuity of ideas:
    and, as well as, also, consequently, as a result, hence, so

    Words that signal contrasting ideas:
    but, yet, although, on the other hand, however, nonetheless

  2. First think of your own words to complete the text. This step can help start your mental wheels turning. Although you shouldn't expect to find your words verbatim among the answer choices (most Text Completion questions aren't that easy), determining up front what sort of completion(s) you're looking for can help you zero-in on the best choice(s).

  3. Be flexible in handling multiple-blank completions. A completion for one blank might make sense in the context of the phrase or sentence in which it appears, yet not work in the context of the passage as a whole.

  4. Check for word-usage and idiom problems. GRE Text Completion covers not just overall sentence sense but also word usage and idiom (how ideas are expressed as phrases). So eliminate any completion that results in a phrase or sentence that is confusing or awkward, or in one that simply sounds wrong to your ear.

  5. Consider all the answer choices. Don't confirm your response until you've considered each and every choice for each and every blank. Remember: The qualitative difference between choices can be subtle, especially if you've moved up to a challenging level.